Friday, August 26, 2016

Read Alouds We've Enjoyed (+ audiobook downloads!): Part 1

This year we've really fallen in love with reading chapter books aloud as a family.  The kids are finally old enough (at least most of them are) to sit and be engaged and enjoy a story over days or weeks.  I still try to be very intentional about reading plenty of picture books as well because I think they are SO beautiful and rich and important for many more years to come.  I don't plan to cut back on reading picture books any time soon for so many reasons.  However, we have thoroughly enjoyed entering into a new "phase" where our kids are ready to listen to chapter books, which are usually above their own reading level. 

My absolute favorite new discovery this year is the Read Aloud Revival podcast on iTunes (or listen online), with Sarah Mackenzie.  I am addicted.  I binge listened to many many episodes when I first discovered it.  I think they're up to about 50 episodes now, and I have already re-listened to a couple of my favorites!  Check it out.  You will not be disappointed.  It is free and a wealth of information for families in general, homeschoolers, parents looking for book ideas and lists, etc.  I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where both of my parents read aloud to me and my siblings.  I have so many fond memories that pop up now and then when I see certain book titles, hear a character's name, or see a book cover that looks familiar.  My mom still jokes with us about Matilda and their family's use of the "telly" instead of reading books.  I remember my dad laughing so hard out loud when he read Owl's in the Family to us.  The Spirit Flyer series was one of the most memorable and exciting read aloud series I can remember.  So much so that I re-read them myself a couple of times when I was a little bit older.  I didn't even realize how blessed I was to grow up in a home where books were important, and family time boding over books was a priority.  That was my "normal" - I am SO THANKFUL!  The Read Aloud Revival podcast is making those things a reality in so many homes.  It's exciting!  It will make you want to forget whatever you're doing and go read to your kids (Also known as D.E.A.R.: drop everything and read!).

I thought I would share some of our favorite read aloud chapter books from this year (so far!).  Keep in mind my kids are all still little (7, 5, 4, and 2) so these are mostly short chapter books and simpler stories, but many are still classic and have such great character building truths in them.  Some are just plain hysterical.  And one even made all of my kids genuinely sad at the end.  Great conversations and questions arise when you least expect it!  Here are our favorites from this past school year (in no particular order):
The kids wanted to make a sign for our front door before our friends came over to watch!

PJ's, blankets, ice cream...such fun memories!

  • The Hundred Dresses, a classic story for girls and boys!  A great introduction to the topic of bullying and kindness.
  • Homer Price.  Definitely a funny one!  We will read this out loud again, I'm sure.
  • Pippi Longstocking.  Also funny!
  • Twig, our first "fairy" book!  The three big kids loved it and I enjoyed watching the wheels in their brains turn as they imagined throughout the story.  And of course, they have been playing elves and fairies ever since - bonus!

Isn't this part simply lovely?  We re-read the entire page :)
  • Owls in the Family.  The book is in my personal top 2 favorite read alouds from my childhood - it's hilarious!  All ages will laugh.
  • The Milly-Molly-Mandy Storybook.  Took a little while for me to get in to it, but it was a good intro to reading chapter books out loud since each chapter is a contained story, but the characters are the same throughout the book.
  • The Littles.  We've only read the first one in the series so far, but have been collecting others whenever I find them, used, for future read alouds or kids' independent reading.
  •  Fantastic Mr. Fox (another fun dad read, though might require some previewing...  And we definitely will NOT be watching this movie with the kids anytime soon ;-)

This year we also discovered and treasure trove of instant download audiobooks from our library.  All you need is your Library's app, plus the Overdrive app or the Hoopla app, and you're set.  It might be one of the more exciting things of my adult life...ha!  Here are some of our favorite audiobooks we listened to (so far!) from the library:
  • The Cricket in Times Square
  • A Bear Called Paddington
  • Pollyanna (such a classic, old Disney movie to watch afterward)
  • Sarah Plain and Tall (I look forward to sharing the movie with my kids someday)
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins (definitely a favorite!)
  • Happy Birthday Mrs. Piggle Wiggle
  • Mercy Watson series (these books are also FABULOUS for the beginning reader)
  • Hans Christian Andersen stories
  • Frog and Toad Collections
And last but not least, Audible.  Amazon's version of audiobooks.  We scored a free 3 month subscription and it has been awesome!  At the very least you should be able to do a 1-month free trial.  It is so easy to download books onto my iPhone and play them from a Bluetooth speaker around the house, or better yet, in the car when the kids are a "captive audience" and it keeps them so much quieter than any other drive conversation/chaos!  Favorites so far:
  • Ramona Quimby series (14+ hours of audio!)
  • Henry Huggins (13+ hours of audio)
  • Children of the Noisy Village
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (the Ann Hathaway Version!!!)